The Willis Report: What Obamacare's 'individual mandate' means

The Willis Report: What Obamacare's 'individual mandate' means for you

Posted: Updated:

By Gerri Willis
FOX Business Network


New Obamacare health insurance exchanges open Tuesday, October 1. This is the first time that individuals will be able to sign up for health insurance offered under the controversial Affordable Care Act.

Opening of the exchanges marks the starting gun for the law's implementation, which is the biggest overhaul of the nation's health care system since Medicare in 1966. The devil will definitely be in the details -- and there are a lot of them -- and none has been more controversial than the individual mandate.

Tonight on The Willis Report on the Fox Business Network, we'll be talking about the mandate and what it means to you. The government is requiring individuals to have health care coverage. And the requirement extends to you and everyone in your household, including spouses and dependents.

OPTIONS AND PENALTIES

The coverage can be issued by your employer, through federal programs like Medicare, Medicaid, CHIPS, and the Veterans Administration, or it can be purchased through private networks. Failing those options, individuals are required to buy coverage through the Obamacare exchanges opening Oct. 1.

Individuals must be able to prove coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2014.

The laws' authors are hopeful that premiums from young people. who comprise the largest numbers of the uncovered. will help pay for older Americans who don't have coverage.

Despite all that attention to the mandate, 26 percent of Americans aren't aware of the requirement or didn't think the law included it, according to a March 2013 Kaiser Family Foundation poll.

There are penalties for failing to comply. If you do not have the minimum level of coverage and do not qualify for an exemption, you must pay a penalty to the IRS at the end of the tax year. The penalty for the first year is up to $95 per adult and $47.50 per child, or 1 percent of family income, whichever is greater.

The fine, however, increases over time and in 2016 will be as much as $695 per adult and $347 per child (up to $2,085 for a family) or 2.5 percent of family income, whichever is greater.

EXCEPTIONS TO THE RULE


We said everybody must prove coverage, but there are some exceptions to that rule. If you can't afford coverage because premiums cost more than 8 percent of your household income, you don't have to have coverage. Also, if you don't make enough money to file a tax return, you are also exempt. If you live in one of the many states which opted not to expand Medicaid under Obamacare, you also don't have to participate.

Other exemptions exist, but they are fairly narrow, usually for people already receiving health benefits from the government, such as native Americans.

ARE YOU COVERED?

Your first chance to prove that coverage will be with the filing of your 2014 tax return on April 15, 2015.  Job-based plans, including COBRA or coverage from a retirement plan, will likely satisfy the mandate. Coverage from Medicare, Medicare Advantage, Medicaid, CHIPs, some VA programs or TRICARE coverage for our military members and their dependents will satisfy the requirement.

Likewise, you can buy coverage from a government exchange or a private exchange. Take care with the latter, though, because Obamacare has fairly high requirements for coverage that a private plan may not meet.   

Interact with Gerri on Twitter @GerriWillisFBN and Facebook for more information, or to voice your concerns and questions.

  • BusinessMore>>

  • First lady announces one-stop job site for vets

    First lady announces one-stop job site for vets

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 1:16 PM EDT2014-04-23 17:16:37 GMT
    The government is developing a website to help job-seeking veterans and military spouses create resumes, make connections with employers and become part of a database that companies can mine for skills and talents.
    First lady Michelle Obama has announced a new online effort to link soldiers leaving the military with jobs that match their skill sets.
  • Wellness programs grow more popular with employers

    Wellness programs grow more popular with employers

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 1:04 PM EDT2014-04-23 17:04:44 GMT
    By TOM MURPHY and CATHERINE LUCEY Associated Press That little voice nagging you to put down the cake and lace up the running shoes is increasingly coming from your employer and is likely to grow...
    By TOM MURPHY and CATHERINE LUCEY Associated Press That little voice nagging you to put down the cake and lace up the running shoes is increasingly coming from your employer and is likely to grow louder...
  • Norfolk Southern railroad 1Q profit falls 18 pct

    Norfolk Southern railroad 1Q profit falls 18 pct

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 12:54 PM EDT2014-04-23 16:54:35 GMT
    Norfolk Southern Corp.'s first-quarter profit fell 18 percent as severe winter weather slowed shipments and the railroad delivered 1 percent less freight overall.
    Norfolk Southern's first-quarter profit fell 18 percent as severe winter weather slowed the railroad's shipments and coal revenue dropped 15 percent.
Powered by WorldNow

KTBC FOX 7
119 East 10th Street
Austin, TX 78701

Phone: (512) 476-7777
Fax: (512) 495-7001

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices